Monday, March 21, 2005

Washington Post Editorial : A Threat to Latin Democracy

The "Liberal Media" on "The New Axis of Evil"

The "left wing media" are beginning to kick into gear now in what I have been predicting will be another pro-war, pro-intervention propaganda blitz: the growth of left-wing populism in Latin America.

The anonymous editorial writer speaks of "a new bloc of Latin "socialist" (i.e., undemocratic) regimes" as if to say that any democratically elected government choosing a path that does not emphatically embrace global, unregulated, laissez faire, "free market" capitalism is, ipso facto, undemocratic. From this view, it is logically impossible to democratically elect anything but a capitalist regime. Am I the only person who sees a logically flawed argument here? Where am I going wrong?

In fact, a Washington Post news article from November 3, 2004 (why does that date ring a bell?) said of the trend in democratically elected Latin American governments
"...most of the region's newly elected officials accept the principles of market economics and democracy but also believe that free trade and economic liberalism have not lifted the region's poor as promised, requiring a stronger role for the state. Some also gained popularity by distancing themselves from the Bush administration's foreign policies."

"Latin America, a region of nearly 500 million people with enormous disparity between rich and poor, has gone through a 'bad spell,' said Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. Crime and violence are sky-high, growth has been flat for years, and some countries such as Argentina have gone through deep financial crises.

'People have been unhappy with their governments and voting them out of office,' Hakim said, adding that 'the Bush administration's favorite politicians are not winning elections' in the region.

But while those winning may be part of a 'leftist trend,' he added, they are 'not really rejecting the free market.' Rather, he said, they are 'saying a stronger commitment is needed to address the social needs.'"

Where, exactly, is the threat to democracy in this?

The answer: there is no threat to democracy. There is a threat to global, unregulated, laissez faire, "free market" capitalism.

There is a difference between democracy and capitalism. One is a political system, the other an economic system. There is nothing inherently undemocratic about socialism or social welfare or left-of-center social policies.

So why is the "liberal" Washington Post publishing such an alarmist editorial?

1 comment:

Kogepan said...

Professor Fallon,

I might have to begin calling you a toothsayer. Some weeks ago you said it wouldn't surprise you if Latin America was included in the Axis of Evil: Reduh! You were right. This is not the first time I have heard about it. I would direct you to my site which has a BBC special report on Bush's plan for oil all along since he first stepped awkwardly into office.

Now if only you could predict college basketball brackets.